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The Catholic View of Justification – Part 1


I am not sure if this will generate any discussion or not, but given the recent discussion in the comments of an unrelated post, I wanted to move the discussion on Roman Catholicism to a post which is more or less about the issues we ended up discussing. It may be that all has been said that needs to be said. If that is the case then this video will still be helpful.

I appreciate Dr. Sproul’s desire for honesty and for keeping focused on the key issues that divide Catholics and Protestants. Unlike some other apologists, he appears to have done some legitimate study on the issues and does not rely upon hearsay when critiquing Catholicism. As far as I can tell he has fairly represented both sides. That said this is obviously from a Protestant perspective so the infrequent jabs at Catholicism should be understood in that light.

I don’t want to spend too much time introducing the video so here it is. I would appreciate if my Catholic friends would give their honest opinion. Do you think that Sproul did an honest job representing the RC positions? If not, can you show where the official teaching of the church contradicts what Sproul says? I am operating under the assumption that he has done his research well because he usually does.  I’ll post part two of the section on justification tomorrow.

11 thoughts on “The Catholic View of Justification – Part 1

  1. Vanessa

    I have to admit I learned a few things in this and saw some areas where I thought they believed different than he said. I have always said that they believe in salvation by works. But the problem as he said is it is faith plus works and grace plus merit. I don’t need to make satisfaction for my sins venial or mortal. God did that for me. I believe and through my faith he creates obedience.

  2. Dustin S.

    It’s interesting how a difference in language makes all the difference. They were using a Latin definition as Sproul said which was a terrible choice. The language God chose to use for the original should be where we go for understanding. We received the scriptures from God in a specific culture, language, and time. Those should influence how we understand the words he gave us.

  3. Aimee Toups

    I always explain it like this, when I was Catholic I believed that I could always do something to make amends for my sin. I could fix it by confession and penance or as he described it by saying some Our Fathers. The point is that when I believed I could do something to satisfy what I did wrong in my sin I found it easy to sin. This is because I always had the power to fix it and fixing it was inconvenient but easy enough so I found it east to sin. When I met Christ I saw right away that NOTHING that I can do can satisfy the immense wrong that I did even in a small lie. It was only when I saw how bad my sin was. Bad enough that nothing I can so can repair my relationship with God it was only then that sin was not easy to do. Not because I feared what God would do to me but because I was so incredibly thankful that Jesus did what was impossible for me that the thought of sinning was no longer attractive to me. It was so very attractive when I believed that fixing it was as easy as confessing and doing a work to satisfy the wrong. If the affects of my sin could be so easily fixed then sin wasn’t a big deal and my guilt was fixed by doing something. But when I saw it for what it was and nothing but Jesus dying could repair the relationship that’s when I truly stopped living in sin.

  4. Alvaro

    I’ve been Catholic my entire life but in the last two years have been looking at other churches. I usually hit the early Mass on Sundays then go to the Baptist church right after. I have grown a lot spiritually since going to the Baptist church and am now in the process of telling my family and friends that I am no longer going to go to Mass. It is just not necessary anymore. The things I like about the Catholic church such as conservatism and family values I can find in the Baptist church too. The video mentioned some important things and he is convincing. I know they have their answers to these objections but it has come down to the word “alone” like he said. It is Jesus and Jesus alone who does it. All I add is the sin that needs to be forgiven. By the way are you from Spain? My family consists of Cerdas and De La Cerdas. The same but shortened by some when they came to the US and Mexico.

  5. Greg Levin

    I guess I’ll share my story too :) I started becoming interested in Catholicism in 2004 after reading Scott Hahn.I was Nazarene at the time and was disalusioned with the lack of depth there. I wanted something deeper. I totally bought into what Hahn was saying and in 2006 was received into the Catholic church. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the things that I liked about Hahn’s presentation of Catholicism were not really accepted as readily by my priest or a large part of the Catholic church. Hahn had a way of making the line between my Nazarene faith and the Catholic faith very thin. A way of making Catholicism look somewhat Protestant and Evangelical. But when I continued to live out what I learned from Hahn and similar more Evangelical catholics I was quickly reminded that his is not the official teaching of the church. I was being changed from an Evangelical Catholic to a traditional Catholic slowly but surely. Those who had been Catholic for some time would listen to my excitement over Catholic things with amusement and would find an indirect way to encourage me to leave beind the soft catholicism of Hahn and others and embrace a more hardline Catholicism. The kind of Catholic that I wanted to believe existed was a sort of Evangelical Catholic who held to scripture almost alone and faith almost alone and grace almost alone. What I found was that scripture is valued highly but as interpreted by the church and equal to the tradition of the church. I found that faith is highly valued but in practice it was our work that was focused on. I found they had a high view of grace but also of merit. It all came to a head in 2011 when I was faced with the official teaching of the church at Trent and saw that it still existed and what I had hoped for in Catholicism did not truly exist. I discovered that I was never truly a Catholic in my heart so I left church altogether and had no faith until I discovered Luther and found my way back to God in 2013. I have never known such freedom as I have discovered in Lutheran teaching on grace and the sufficient sacrifice of Chriat. Hold fast to Christ friends.

  6. Larry

    The catholic church is the * antichrist who is leading millions astray from the gospel. They have committed many sins against God and they are no longer his church. God left his people before when he left Israel because of her filth. And yet Rome thinks they are forever God’s *[church?] no matter how grave their sins. What makes them think that God is still with them when they have committed idolatry? When they have denied the gospel? When they have * [molested] thousands of little alter boys? Their priesthood is full of sodomites and is a hotbed for homosexuality and they think that merely standing on Peter’s confession a confession they abandoned a long time ago makes them God’s church? They think picketing abortion clinics makes up for all the gross immorality they do when the cameras are not on them? No. If they ever were a part of the true church they are no longer. God did not spare the natural branches so he is under no obligation to spare a church that used to walk in holiness but now walks in utter darkness. A good resource on this cult is A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days by Dave Hunt. Check it out. It will blow your * mind.

    *[this comment has been moderated due to naughty language but was kept largely intact]

  7. Richard

    I for one thought that he did a good job but may have been kind of harsh at some points. We need to remember that these are our brothers and sisters and even though they are in error still have faith in God to save them. It’s funny but God didn’t say we have to have all our doctrine right to be saved. He said believe. It’s a belief that trusts God as the only hope for our sins. If he graded us on doctrine we would have to be right on everything but thankfully he sees our heart and our faith in his son

  8. Rochelle O

    I never knew some of that. It was a good video. So if I understand this right if you commit a sin or a moral sin at least then you have to confess and say a prayer to get your salvation back? What happens if you commit a moral sin and don’t confess and say the prayer prescribed by the priest? So you’re no longer saved then? Would it be hell or purgetory? I don’t know. It sounds like it is based a lot on us and what we do. Is that because you have to be literally righteous? Because they don’t believe we get Jesus’s righteousness? But then whats the standard? It is still keeping the commandments perfectly right? So how can any catholics know they are saved?

  9. I found it all very interesting. I can’t wait for the next one! I agree though. His treatment of Catholicism seemed to be very fair. I’m sure your catholic readers might disagree but no matter who presents this topic they are obviously going to favor their own position. Thanks fr sharing!

  10. Alvaro

    Rochelle I think you mean mortal sin. Yes, this is how I was raised. I would regularly do this. Before going I would ask God to bring to mind my sins. I would pray to God for forgiveness and then being contrite would enter the confessional, list off my sins according to kind and number, he would say I’m forgiven and give me my penance. The penance would make my punishment for my sin less severe and would give my spirit life again. At least this is how we did it in Yecorato.

  11. Greg Levin

    Larry I don’t think Hunt is a good reference. I’m just saying. Also you’d be more convinving if you weren’t so angry and irrational. Also also, Dave Hunt was a hardcore dispensationalist and likely would not have approved of your view of Israel.

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